Sidney Boquiren recaps Thursday's boxing action from Japan (more, including upcoming TV schedule, after the jump). For more Japanese boxing updates, you can follow Sidney on twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter
Kiyota looks like a different fighter in OPBF 168lb defense
Three fights ago Yuzo Kiyota took a crash course on the danger of recklessly chasing a taller, more cunning boxer. The face-first bruiser found himself looking up at his opponent from the canvas after being on the wrong end of a short left uppercut. The muscular Hokkaido native, who had been used to delivering concussive blows in stopping 17 of his 19 opponents up to that point, would pick himself up but would not last the remainder of the round.
The Kiyota who took the ring in Thursday’s main event appeared to be a completely different fighter in every way. From his textbook stance to the attack focused around an educated jab, the OPBF super middleweight titleholder seems to have taken the hard lesson to heart, transforming into a more balanced pugilist. While challenger Shintaro Matsumoto was a novice opponent with less than ten pro fights, Kiyota’s dominant performance showed clear signs of vast improvement.
The changes in Kiyota’s game were not only strategic, as he seems mentally in tune with the new style. Despite possessing a big right hand, the 28-year old refrained from throwing anything but jabs and left hooks for the first period. Throughout the bout, the champ would keep pounding with various punches with his left hand, mixing in jabs to the body and a destructive left uppercut. Even when he unleashed the right in later rounds, Kiyota showed dedication to a controlled attack, always returning to the jab to set up his offensive.
Most impressively, at two points later in the fight when he had the challenger reeling, Kiyota took an instant to back off and recompose, resuming the assault with accuracy and efficiency.
One such instant came in the sixth frame, when the regional beltholder landed a flush left hook followed by a second hook and a left uppercut. Matsumoto’s knees buckled, and as he looked to retreat, Kiyota would score with another left hook. With the challenger clearly in bad shape and pressed against the ropes, the champ surprisingly took a step back and gauged his opponent. Moments later, he would precisely find the mark with a four punch combination – left hook, right, jab and another right. Matsumoto would barely make it to the end of the round.
The minute’s rest was too brief an intermission for the challenger, as he would find himself again on his heels and in danger seconds into the seventh stanza. His attempt at fending off the charging bull with a right hand was met with a counter right by Kiyota. That would spark another barrage of punches as the titleholder pummeled him with left hooks and rights. Here again, Kiyota decided to resettle before delivering an all out offensive. Though Matsumoto would manage somehow to stay upright for the three minute period, referee Yuji Fukuchi had seen enough and waved off the bout before the start of the 8th.
With the stoppage, Kiyota succeeded in making the fifth defense of the OPBF crown, and improved to 22-3-1, 20KO.
While his WBC ranking (#15) is hardly accurate, the regional champ should be commended for the strides in improvement he has shown in a short amount of time. A change of trainers sometime after the Bostic fiasco, as well as recently spending time in Mexico, where he apparently went a few rounds with Saul Alvarez, have paid off for the young man. Hopefully his representatives will be able to secure a bout with more challenging opposition such as regional contenders Jamie Pittman, Joseph Kwadjo, or Serge Yannick.
TV schedule for upcoming world title fights in Japan
Links below will only take you to the broadcasting station’s page for the show
Tuesday, March 27
WBC super flyweight title
Suriyan Sor Rungvisai vs. Yota Sato
3 AM Wednesday (tape delay)
Wednesday, April 4
WBA super flyweight title
Tomonobu Shimizu vs. Tepparith Singwancha
WBA bantamweight title
Koki Kameda vs. Nouldy Manakane
7:00PM – 8:49PM
*Note that the TBS site only shows an April 8 delay broadcast, but other sites show they will air it the day of the fight.
Friday, April 6
WBC super featherweight title
Takahiro Ao vs. Terdsak Kokietgym
WBC bantamweight title
Shinsuke Yamanaka vs. Vic Darchinyan
*Note that Hozumi Hasegawa will make an appearance on the undercard, but his bout with Felipe Carlos Felix will be shown only in digest form during the broadcast.
For more coverage of Japanese boxing, follow Sidney on Twitter: RingwalkNippon@Twitter